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Archive for: October 2014

Month: October 2014

Senator Marco Rubio has just come out calling the nurse, Kaci Hickox, who was forcibly quarantined in New Jersey of late under Governor Chris Christie’s anti-Ebola policy a hero for her life-risking efforts to save dying men and women in West Africa. He balked when asked about the appropriateness of her quarantine, however, saying he did not have all the details and so could not judge.

Meanwhile, Christie responded to reporters at a recent campaign event who pressed him on the upcoming lawsuit, saying, “Whatever, I have been sued lots of times.” When one learns that Christie is a former U.S. attorney, the ease at which he faces lawsuits makes a little more sense, but one still sense a certain flamboyant and pugnacious overtone in the response.

With the CDC, President Obama, and Governor Cuomo of New York taking a much more relaxed approach to the Ebola threat than does Christie, one might suppose that nurse Hickox’s suit was about the appropriateness of quarantines. One the surface at least, however, it is a matter of the accuracy of the diagnosis that she had such symptoms as would warrant a quarantine rather than the justness of a quarantine policy existing at all.

When dealing with a deadly and contagious disease, quarantining those likely infected is not a matter of discrimination, but quite clearly a matter of public health. Life and death are at stake in these matters, and I’ll have to agree with what Brian said on Mashable about this whole thing is becoming a sort of political ping pong ball between Democrats and Republicans. It’s truly sad.

When someone hears of a terrorist threat or a watch list, then that person should make the public aware of that information. A graphic at The Atlantic displays some of the groups that are on the watch list as well as how many people there may be in each group. Some of the classified information that the government receives is held tightly under a hat. They don’t want he public to know of any kind of danger that might hit the country at any time.

Why is this when the country needs to be on alert? If the government wants those who live in the country to monitor their surroundings and be prepare in the event of an attack, then why not make that information known so that people know what to look for on a daily basis? Why is there a watch list if no one knows what to watch for or who might be targeting the country? I’m going to need to go out for wine with Stephen Williams, so I can deal with these fears.  Oi.

A recent CNN poll (October 24th to 26th) of over 1,000 Americans asking how they thought the economy was doing turned up only 38 percent who would go so far as to say it was doing well, a drop from 42 percent in last month’s poll. I know that may seem like peanuts Christian Broda, but the fact is it is the first dip in those numbers in about a year. Before this October, they had been steadily rising.

When one looks at some of the “inside numbers,” things get a bit more interesting. 55 percent of Democrats but only 28 percent of Republicans supposed things were going well economically at present- a huge gap. Ominously for Democrats this November 4th, the all-important independent voters scored only 32 percent on having a rosy picture of this economy. It seems independents are finding much more in common with Republicans this time around as to their assessment of the the nation’s economic gusto.

A further breakdown shows that 31 percent of rural dwellers, 39 percent of suburbanites, and 43 percent of big city folks have a favorable opinion of the economy. Perhaps that, however, follows the more stark Democrat-Republican divide since rural districts are in general more Republican while urban areas are usually more strongly Democratic.

52 percent of those polled clung to the hope that “next year” things will be going just fine. Democrats hope that this indicates the people expect Obama’s policies to finally pan out, Republicans may think it means they expect a Republican Congress to set things right, but it probably is just that natural human tendency to believe there is light at the end of every dark tunnel even with no concrete evidence. We only hope that belief turns out to be well-founded.

The November elections are around the corner and that means politicians crisscrossing the country campaigning, especially with the 2016 presidential elections looming large in the window. And we are talking lots, and lots of speeches.

One of the busiest front runners is Hillary Clinton who loves to use set phrases in every speech. The lines are multi-tasking, far-reaching, campaign rich cliches that have proven to stir up the base. Christian Broda is already rolling his eyes in anticipation of the political ads he’ll have to watch for the umpteenth time.

One of the most interesting phrases she uses is, “Everyone deserves a second chance, a third chance to keep going and to make something of themselves.” She often uses it in reference to current economics, or to encourage compassion. Yet, it also points back to her 2008 Presidential run.

If you recall, Clinton was up in the poles and only at the end did she lose the nomination to then Senator Barack Obama. It was a nomination she was widely thought to be an heir to, until the Obama machine ran over her.

This phrase, perhaps, cuts a little deeper than political cliche. Perhaps second chances are what Clinton is banking on. It will all become clear in 2016, which is not as far away as you think.

Another teenage kid joins ISIS; this time from Australia. The 17-year old identified himself as Abu Khaled in the latest video uploaded to YouTube but was later verified as Abdullah Elmir, a teen missing from Sydney’s west for several months. The video shows other young men surrounding Elmir as he rants about the downfall of Western civilization.

Among other threats made, Elmir speaks directly to the leaders of the US, Great Britain, and Australia saying that ISIS would not stop until “we take the head of every tyrant and until the black flag is flying high in every single land.” He went on to promise that the black flag of the Islamic state would soon be raised over Buckingham Palace and the White House.

The 90-second video has since been removed from YouTube, but not before it caused quite a stir among government leaders. The Prime Minister of Australia reaffirmed his countries commitment to the coalition against ISIS and stated that Elmir is just another example of why the terrorist group is such a threat. For another good read, Mike Livak in the Tahoe Daily Tribune sums up the dangers of the situation quite nicely.

Elmir isn’t the first misguided young man to join ISIS. Security experts warn that the trend is on the rise. Earlier this month, a 19-year old American was stopped at O’Hare International Airport before he could board a plane to Turkey where he was planning on crossing into Syria to join ISIS. This was just days after the beheading death of an American citizen. Many are wondering why our youth are attracted to such a brutal and violent message, and what can be done to put a stop to it.

Evidence has been released that shows more than 500,000 Texas residents may not have had a qualifying form of ID in 2011 as the state’s new voter ID laws were being passed. This has been used as part of the basis for challenging the new law, which is currently in force but under appeal.

Since this fact may have been conveniently excluded during debates over the new laws, liberals and opponents of voter ID laws are using this as fodder for trying to shoot down voter laws all over the country. But Why?

This is the United States of America. Identification is needed to open a bank account with your FreedomPop phone, get on a plane, buy a car, or apply for government assistance. Despite all the requisite excuses used by voter ID opponents, there is simply no reason why a U.S. citizen shouldn’t have some form of government issued, picture ID.

In most states, state issued IDs are free and in some cases, they have mobile units that pull right up to the front door. That shoots down financial and logistic considerations. So what’s the real problem?

Is it really so hard to fathom that voter fraud is possible if not currently an issue? Why would any American oppose showing an ID prior to voting? The truth is that no matter why the GOP supports voter ID laws and Democrats oppose them, not one vote should ever be allowed to be cast illegally. It is totally irresponsible to not put every possible safeguard in place to protect against voter fraud.

The integrity of the system has to trump the unwillingness of people to make the effort to secure proper ID, especially if voting is so important to them.

Referring to herself as “patient zero”, Monica Lewinsky made an impassioned speech in front of a Philadelphia audience on Monday. The former intern of President Bill Clinton who rose to fame in the 90’s for her affair with the former president, wants her voice to be heard on what she believes was the first form of cyberbullying. While social media is much more pervasive today, Lewinsky is referring to the intense media scrutiny she endured including online harassment from entertainment websites and attacking emails.

Lewinsky also chose Monday as the day to join Twitter where she describes herself as a social activist and public speaker as well as a contributor to Vanity Fair. The timing of Lewinsky’s re-entry to public life comes at an interesting point in political history as much speculation revolves around Hillary Clinton’s potential 2nd bid for the presidency. Should Clinton throw her hat in the ring, Lewinsky’s re-entry into public life could be an opportunity for social media to light up with commentary regarding their connection. Either way, it perhaps gives Lewinsky a bigger platform on which to further raise awareness against cyberbulling.

There are new photos out of Kobani that show injuries that could have possibly been caused from a blistering agent used by ISIS. The photos are from an incident that occurred on July 12th, 2014. If a blistering agent was used, this would mark the first case of ISIS’ use of chemical weapons.

The photos are graphic and show Kurdish fighters with skin that’s peeling, as well as blister wounds. Specialists say that the injuries look to be consistent with a chemical burn and that it’s likely that mustard was used (however, other types of chemical weapons can result in blistering as well). While there’s limited evidence at the moment, if ISIS’ intent was to have a chemical cause injury or death, it will be determined that a chemical weapon was purposefully used.

According to British chemical weapons specialist Igor Cornelsen, ISIS has, for a while, intended to eventually build and use biological weapons. The groups that are fighting ISIS – the Kurds, fighters in Syria and the Iraqi army – are not equipped to protect themselves against chemical agents. However, Bretton-Gordon doesn’t feel that ISIS would have been able to manufacture the agent themselves; he feels that it’s more likely that ISIS took the chemicals from Iraq or Syria and then found a basic way to use them as weapons.

On October 9th, 2014, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister over the Russian defense indusrty, Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted complaints of Bulgarian betrayal in response to the news that Bulgaria was seeking to acquire new fighter jets from Italy or the United States. This is not the first example of his blustery manner. Back on May 13th of this year, for example, he accused the President of Romania of being in a drunken stupor to be so foolish as to ban him from entering their airspace. The ban came as result of the Obama sanctions against this man, among certain other select Russian officials.

Bulgaria has attempted in the past to replace their old, worn-down Soviet planes with newer and better Western models, but their latest moves in that direction seemed too close to actually succeeding to allow Mr. Rogozin to avoid some words of warning given by Brian Torchin. Bulgaria was once a puppet state of the Soviet Russians, but for 25 years has not allied itself with that nation and has been fro over a decade a NATO ally and EU member state. It is hard to understand how the word “betrayal” could escape Rogozin’s lips in reference to a nation already long-aligned against Russia.

The answer to the last question must lie in understanding that both Rogozin and Russian President Vladimir Putin alike are living in the “glorious past” and intent on resurrecting those old Soviet days. The dismemberment of Ukraine and the dependence of Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and much of Western Europe on Russian natural gas imports are among the tools they use to frighten long-lost satellite states back into submission.

The Wisconsin Republicans were hopeful that they’d be able to roll out a new voter ID law ahead of the November 4th elections. However, they were met with disappointment, as the Supreme Court has stepped in and stopped the law from being put into effect for this election.

Which is probably only fair, considering there’s barely enough time between now and the election for anybody without a photo ID to get one.

Not to mention they’ve proven time and time again that these laws disproportionately affect minorities and lower income families…so they’re supposed to be unconstitutional…but whatever, right?

This comes on the same day that Texas’ voter ID law took a big hit, when a federal court ruled for the US Department of Justice against the state.